The hot yoga story. Written by Any Man

I’m severely outnumbered but find comfort that this will be the best thing. In finding my future wife. The odds are stacked in my favour guys to girls.

I hear the teacher talk about the advantages that males have over females in yoga. Funny but it doesn’t appear that way. I’ve laid eyes on a possible future wife and my legs don’t move the way hers do. I’m struggling to even understand how hips operate that way. My belly seems to be a bit of a problem.

I’m hoping she finds profuse sweating attractive.  My ears perk up to listen to my so called advantages.

My arms are longer along with my torso which makes something called a jump-back easier. Doubtful. I am more strong than flexible so I can hold the postures for longer with greater ease.  Arm balances and inversions will be easier due to my upper body strength.

I hear the name of the next pose. Splits. Granted there was the word preparation before it but still. I don’t know if my choice of shorts will withstand any sort of split preparation. I don’t know if my now wife and I will be able to  transcend what happens in the splits. I will have to write irreconcilable differences on the divorce application.

I’ve just realised I’ve fallen in love, got married, fallen out of love and divorced all without a single thought to the way I’m breathing. Am I doing it right? That reminds me I need to be at work early tomorrow.

I am lost in thought. Would it be rude to take my shirt off? What does yoga protocol dictate when ones singlet has become like a second skin.

What the teacher says next gives me a clue that I may need to purchase the 10 class pass rather than just the 5 to nail this yoga thing.

“This is not cross-fit. We are not doing WODs. The hands and feet land softly. The breath stays fluid. We’re building awareness. When you stay aware, you won’t get injured. When you stay aware, you can respond not react. When you stay aware, you can stay aware.”

I thought this was just lying around breathing. When did breathing become so hard? I’m not sure how I feel when the teacher breaks the news that we’ll never master yoga. It’s not designed to be mastered. It’s designed to be practiced.

The teacher then appears to let me off the hook, telling me that not everyone will benefit from yoga. Thank god! 24/7 gym I’ll see you tomorrow.

If you’ve never been anxious, depressed, stressed or p*ssed off. If you’ve never had a sore low back. If you don’t want to get better at the other sports you do.  If you think you have two lungs so one is a backup. If you think insomnia is a weird, personality quirk. If you think great sex is dumb. Then yoga will not help you. Sorry.

I did an yoga

I recently realised the effects of doing almost 30 hours of yoga a week. Something dawned on me that I may have forgotten. With my crazy teaching schedule plus personal practice, my expectations of what people can do sometimes exceeds their reality.

My solution, albeit a little extreme, was to cut back on my mat time during a recent month long holiday. Cut back to what many people would do, one class a week. My intention was to emulate a more ‘typical’ body and mind and just see what happened.

Week 1.

I happily lapped up my first 40 minutes of yoga then firmed my resolve to not practice yoga again for the rest of the week. After two days of no yoga I felt achy, my back felt ‘sticky’ and I had a crappy night sleep. Stay strong – no more yoga for the week.

Then something happened I wasn’t prepared for. After five or six days, I noticed a mental shift. Lazy crept in, lethargy took hold, inner calm started to waver.

Week 2.

Another surprise. As I was still operating in lazy, lethargic mode, I had to almost force myself to do yoga this week. Now here is the crazy part, I went for a 20 minute run AND I DIDN’T STRETCH AFTERWARD. If I was going to do this experiment I was going to do it properly and I know so many people run, don’t stretch and do yoga once a week. My knee now hurts, really hurts. I had to buy a knee brace-thingy.

Week 3.

I did my hour of yoga this week and felt amazing. The rhythmic sound of my breathing was calming and reassuring. I had to modify a lot of postures on account of my knee but it felt good to be on my old faithful mat. I struggled to sit cross-legged, again on account of knee so my meditation practice felt a little interrupted.

Week 4.

Knee getting worse and starting to become concerned with studio opening soon and unable to sit comfortably cross-legged. Perhaps my quest for wisdom was misguided. Since 1st December I have done one class of yoga a week and run for 20 minutes. Crazy hey?

What made these four weeks so valuable to my teaching ability were the observations and reflections on how most people live. My body became like a beginners and my mind fragmented and unfocussed.

After a week of teaching, I am right back to where I was. My approach to life has once again became calm, my creativity has exploded, my quality of sleep is refreshing and revitalising.

Knee brace-thingy gone.

“Do not suppress it – that would hurt you inside. Do not express it – that would not only hurt you inside but cause ripples in your surroundings. What you do is transform it” (Peace Pilgrim)

Yoga for me transforms anger, impatience, ungratefulness, fear, stagnation and injury into something positive I can use to evolve.

Observations and reflections…

  • Most people have very low expectations for wellness and how good their body could feel.
  • Amidst the craziness of daily life, we all have a calm and peaceful centre. We just pay more attention to the crazy than the calm.
  • It doesn’t take long to lose it but it doesn’t take long to get it back.
  • Our bodies are designed to move.  Movement equals freedom.
  • Inner peace requires some stillness and inward awareness everyday.
  • Improvement doesn’t require a big hit of massive effort. It requires consistant and committed effort. Everyday.
  • Yoga makes a huge difference. Simple.

Meet Cheryl

Meet Cheryl

Her arthritis is spreading.

Cheryl’s neck is the worst, her wrists are following, her knees are unforgiving and her shoulders are painfully restricted. The worst thing though is that she gave it to herself. She has slogged it out in the gym for years, lifting weights too heavy, running too many km’s and doing exercises that left her unable to move for days.

Her specialist has now told her she is reaping the “benefits.” Arthritis.

No pain, no gain.

The catch-cry slogan of the 90’s was rampant in Cheryl’s approach. She aimed to be healthy and her approach was hard, fast, sweaty and painful.  Yoga didn’t fit that approach so it wasn’t until an inability to do anything else given her injuries that Cheryl stepped onto a yoga mat two years ago.

Meet Cheryl

If you saw Cheryl at yoga you wouldn’t pick her for being the injured one.

She flows, she breathes and she’s happy because she sweats. The sweating satisfies her A-type personality. She walks away feeling like she’s done something. Yoga has developed her body awareness so she can move gracefully around her injuries while slowly restoring strength and flexibility to the areas effected by arthritis.

The heat helps the dull, lingering ache that is the hallmark of arthritis. The heat also creates a challenging environment, sometimes it’s hard to stay focussed with sweat dripping, sometimes it’s hard just to maintain deep breathing. More often than not Cheryl brings the baggage of her job to class with her but she never leaves with it.